May 12 of every year is celebrated as Nurses’ Day worldwide, and as Nigerian nurses joined their counterparts across the globe, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described nurses as infantry soldiers of the health profession.
The NLC, in this period of COVID-19, which further has highlighted the unquantifiable sacrifices of nurses, reiterated the need for government and healthcare managers across the country and other climes world over to pay attention to the ndds of nurses who “go to war” without adequate personal protective gear, conducive work environment and an impossible work schedule.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, reflecting on the global theme of the 2020 International Nurses’ Day, “Nursing the World to Health – Focusing on the True Value of Nurses to the People of the World,” noted that the theme resonated with the current global health insurgency – the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the role of nurses and other frontline health workers in combating the global health challenge.
“As at last week, about 200,000 health workers are estimated to have been infected with COVID-19. Out of this number 260 nurses have died from the COVID-19 infection.
“In Nigeria, the brutal backlash of the COVID-19 on health workers is very worrisome. More than 300 health workers have been exposed and infected and some have paid the supreme price fighting the pandemic,” he said.
Wabba noted that the global theme gave a lot of traction to the theme of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in the celebration of this year’s Nurses’ Day, which is, “Nurses a Voice to Lead: Nursing the World to Health.”
The labour leader said, as the infantry soldiers of the health profession, nurses’ forte is in the trenches of health wars like the COVID-19; always by the side of sick patients even when other healthcare workers would have retired to rest.
“Our nurses always experience firsthand the strife for life, the surge of hope, the smiles of recovery and at the worst curve – the stench of death. They are the voice that hold the night still. Nursing is the voice deserving to lead,” he said.
He stated that the congress was hopeful that, this year, the voices of nurses and other health workers would be heard.
He said, “May 2020 be the year the salaries you are owed are paid, the promotion you deserve is given to you and the necessary support you need to enable you continue in your noble duty of saving lives is granted. May this year be the year of your voice empowered and dignified.
“One thing is certain, posterity will never forget the contributions of our nurses and other healthcare workers globally in salvaging mankind from extinction in the course of one of the worst pandemics that have ever berthed on the shores of humanity.”
The NLC president said the International Nurses’ Day brought into light the pioneering work of the Lady with the Lamp – Florence Nightingale – and the light that the nursing profession has shone on the earth and how it has brightened the people of the world.
He said, “We bask in the health of your light. Your gift is inestimable. Your value to generations yore, generations now and generations to come remains invaluable.”
Nurses’ Day was the culmination of a week-long celebration in the honour of nurses all over the world. The May 12 Nurses Day is significant in so many ways as it is also the commemoration of the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who was an exemplary nurse who epitomized the nobility, love, care, empathy, devotion and sacrifice that are the hallmark of the nursing profession.